Person:Alexander Henderson (2)

m. 26 Jul 1866
  1. Mary Henderson1867 - 1894
  2. Margaret Henderson1869 - 1869
  3. Robert Henderson1870 - Bet 1888 & 1890
  4. James Robertson Henderson1871 - 1963
  5. Thomas Davidson Henderson1872 - 1960
  6. Alexander Henderson1874 - 1957
  7. Elizabeth Davidson Henderson1875 - 1958
  8. John Johnstone Henderson1877 - 1877
m. 1908
  1. Eleanor B. Henderson1909 - 1984
  2. Ronald A. Henderson1914 - 2002
m. 8 Sep 1936
Facts and Events
Name Alexander Henderson
Gender Male
Birth[1][2][3][18] 30 Mar 1874 112 Grange Place, Edinburgh, Midlothian, ScotlandQuality: 3
Baptism[7][21] 19 Jun 1874 Edinburgh, Midlothian, ScotlandQuality: 3
Other[22] 1881 Ship
Residence[8][9][10][23] Bet 1895 and 1897 8622 S. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, Cook County, IllinoisQuality: 2
Residence[11] 1897 8622 S. Hermitage, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
Marriage 1908 to Ellen Ida Boring
Residence[12] 1 Sep 1910 1607 E. 17th St., Portland, Multnomah County, OregonQuality: 3
Residence[13][24] Oct 1914 5235 N. Spaulding Ave., Chicago, Cook County, IllinoisQuality: 3
Other[14][25] 12 Sep 1918 1348 West 87th Street, Chicago, Cook County, IllinoisQuality: 3 Milit-Beg
Residence[15] May 1919 1595 - 34th Ave., Moline, Rock Island County, IllinoisQuality: 3
Occupation[16] 29 Sep 1919 2325 - 19th Ave., Moline, Rock Island County, IllinoisWholesale dry goods salesman. "He simply didn't seem tohave any luck with selling bonds and he knew the firm wasn't satisfied, so, when he got an offer from a wholesale dry goods firm in Davenport, he took it. He left last night on his first trip. He will travel the north-eastern part of Iowa and will get home every two weeks, which isn't so bad." Quality: 3
Marriage 8 Sep 1936 Chicago, Cook County, IllinoisQuality: 3
to Evalyn Louise Warner
Occupation[6] worked for Rock Island Arsenal, Badge #7749 Quality: 2
Death[4][19] 20 Oct 1957 Graham Hospital, Canton, Fulton County, IllinoisQuality: 3
Other[17][26] 20 Oct 1957 Quality: 3 DeathCause
Burial[5] 23 Oct 1957 Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago, Cook County, IllinoisQuality: 3
Alt Burial? Rosehill Cem., Lot 188, Sec. F; 5800 Ravenswood, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
Other[20] Inventory
Other? 7016 Stewart, Chicago, Cook County, IllinoisProperty-Bought
Reference Number? 239

ALECK 2.01

pieced together by Harold Henderson September 2000

    Robert Henderson was born 30 April 1834 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  He and Elizabeth Davidson were married 26 July 1866 at No. 2 West Lauriston Place in Edinburgh; Walter Davidson was the minister.  He was 32, she was 28.
    Only their mothers could have been present at the ceremony. Robert’s father, a cabinetmaker also named Robert, had died at age 48, after four years’ illness, from a "rupture" or "injury resulting in internal abscess."  Elizabeth’s father Thomas Davidson was an auctioneer who had died of bronchitis. Robert’s mother Margaret McCrae, lived to the age of 84.  Elizabeth’s mother Mary Johnston was in good health as late as 1900, eventually dying at age 90.
    Robert and Elizabeth had at least eight children, of whom we have birth dates for seven:  Mary (14 August 1867), Margaret (18 February 1869), Robert (27 February 1870), Jim (7 July 1871), Tom (18 or 19 November 1872), Aleck (30 March 1874), and Elizabeth (24 November 1875). Margaret and John (birthdate not known) died in infancy.  Aleck’s birth certificate lists him as the sixth child.  He was born at 8:55 a.m. at 112 Grange (?) Place.  His birth was “registered” 15 April, and he was baptized 19 June.
    Robert was a “graduate of Edinburgh” and a teacher of English.  He founded a private school in Glengyle Terrace and served as English Master in Oliphant’s in Charlotte Square.  When George Watson’s Ladies’ College opened in 1871, he became Head English Master there.  Some forty years later he was recalled as “a man of much capacity and earnestness” who was “eminently successful” as a teacher.  In 1877 he became headmaster of a school connected with the Trades’ Maiden Hospital, located at the head of Rillbank Terrace.  Three years later the school was discontinued.
    In 1881, Elizabeth Davidson Henderson died from what has been described as “internal abscess formed after childbirth” or as “puerperal fever.”  (Family tradition per grandson Ronald has it that Robert would occasionally mutter to himself, “Did I kill her?”)  Robert promptly decided to emigrate to America.  More than 70 years after the fact, son Tom recalled their passage in the spring of 1881 on the “Circassia.” They caught fish over the rail.
    For about twelve years the family lived on a farm they called “Pentlands” in northwestern Iowa’s Osceola County.  Apparently Pentlands was in or near the hamlet of Ocheyedan and some eighteen miles from Sibley, the county seat.  Tradition according to Ronald has it that the merchants of Sibley offered Robert credit on his purchases, which he refused.  (For a long time this was the only thing I knew about my great-grandfather.)
    From son Tom’s tales, the family was quite conscious of the local accent.  He recalls a visiting ten-year-old who declined to help Tom finish milking, because he had on his “good suit f’r nicer” and “didn’t *hev* to mayulk no caows.”  Evidently Robert earned some part of their living teaching school. Ten-year-old Elizabeth (known as “Beesh” to Aleck’s side of the family and “Aunt Bess” to the rest) wrote a letter to a friend December 1, 1885, saying that “Papa has got the school and it is to begin in about a couple of weeks.”  Ronald’s recollection is that Beesh later went back with her Aunt Isabel (Robert’s sister) to finishing school in Edinburgh.
    On one occasion (Ronald’s recollection), Tom and Jim made the 18-mile trip into Sibley and loaded down their “jolt-wagon” with purchases, including a shotgun.  They returned home over bouncy and rutted dirt tracks, their purchases rolling and bouncing around in the wagon behind them.  Back home, as they unloaded the wagon, one of them picked up the gun.  It went off, missing the other’s head by inches.  Apparently between 1888 and 1890, they had worse than a close call:  young Robert contracted typhoid fever and died after two weeks.
    Probably in 1893, the family moved back east, but only as far as Chicago.  We don’t know their reason(s), but that year began the most severe depression in U.S. history prior to the 1930s, and the farm economy was very distressed.  We can be sure the family was in Chicago by late that year, because of what happened to Aleck on the foggy evening of 8 November 1893.
    Aleck boarded the next-to-last car of the six-car Blue Island suburban (commuter) train that left the Loop at 5:50 pm on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific line.  The cars were made of wood, with stoves inside to keep them warm, and were pretty well packed with 25-30 people in each.  By 6:30, a few minutes behind schedule, the train stopped at the Eggleston station, just south of 71st Street between Eggleston and Shields.  Just as it began to pull out, the people who had gotten off began shouting and screaming.  Those still on the train scrambled for the doors and windows.  Out of the foggy dusk came the Kansas City “vestibuled express.”  Its engineer threw his engines into reverse but it was too late.  The heavy engine, moving at perhaps 20 miles per hour, threw the rear car six feet into the air and plowed into the back half of the next-to-rear car.  The collison was heard four blocks away.
    The mass of splintered wood and iron immediately caught fire, probably from the stoves.  But no one could hear anything, because the steam valve on the express train’s engine had broken.  Its roar drowned out all other noises, and its clouds of steam burned many who had survived the impact.  There were no lights to be had for 15 minutes, and the windows of the cars were coated with steam.  Neighbors and other passengers ran to help, carrying buckets from nearby houses to put out the fire, taking a bench from the depot to break in through the train windows, and turning nearby homes into hospitals.
    Aleck is listed as having been scalded in the head and face; his home is given as Englewood Heights.  Family tradition has it that he was so severely injured that a newspaper reported him as dead, and that the family did not show him the clipping until long afterwards. (I have not seen such a clipping.) So far as anyone can recall, he suffered no lasting ill effects, and noted the 50th anniversary of the “Eggleston wreck” in his datebook.
    The family suffered a more severe blow when Mary contracted spinal meningitis and died in her late 20s, probably between 1893 and 1900.
    In Chicago, Robert Henderson worked as a manuscript reader for the A.C. McClurg publishing house.  He returned to Edinburgh only once, in 1900, visiting old students and attending a reunion of the George Watson School’s Former Pupils’ Club.  Grandson Ronald does not remember him, but has a story of his going through a low doorway and banging his head.  “Damn everything!” he said.  Then, realizing he really wasn’t hurt, he added, “No, don’t damn anything.”  He died of chronic nephritis 26 April 1916.
    Uncle Jim’s first wife Kitty Springer died in childbirth with their son Robert (1906), who grew up to become a writer and editor for the *New Yorker.*  He published three books, a lightly disguised fictional account of his college days (late 1920s?) which the family seems to have considered scandalous, and two more recent books of short stories, *The Enameled Wishbone* and *Against the Wind.*  Jim later married Mary Cook and they had two children Margaret (Peg) and Faith. Peg had three children, Barbie, Phil (Pokey), and Jeane.
    Uncle Tom married Florence (Flo) Dyer.  Their oldest son Robert Ernest (1900) is vivid in his younger cousin Ronald’s memory as seeming to be “a real cowboy” when he came back from the west (where Tom’s family settled) to Chicago in the 1920s.  Robert Ernest’s son Robert Morgan had three children born in the 1960s, Robert Kenneth (Robin), Bryan, and Laura Noelle.  Robert Ernest’s younger sisters Evelyn and Jessie both have numerous descendants.
    Aleck (“Sandy” when young) was remembered by his daughter Eleanor as “independent-minded” and by his son Ronald as “something of a rebel.”  For one thing, he declined to add to the profusion of “Roberts” and did not follow the family custom of naming his oldest son Robert.
    Aleck attended school through eighth grade, presumably in Iowa and possibly under his father, from 1883 to 1891.  He attended high school from 1894 to 1898 and the University of Illinois from 1898 to 1902, graduating with an A.B.  In the fall of 1902 he started in as a dry goods salesman for Butler Brothers.  The job involved a good  deal of travel; he once said that the worst place he ever had to stay overnight was Sundance, Wyoming.  In 1908 he and Ellen Boring were married.
    Ellen (or Elin, or Ida) was the only one of six sisters to have children.  Ellen’s parents, religious stenographer and editor August Boring  (29 December 1857-11 May 1936) and Sanda Stenberg (22 June 1861-1918?), were married in 1882 and emigrated from Sweden in 1884 or 1887.  August’s father died in 1858.  One of August’s main professional activities (according to grandson Ronald) was to listen to sermons in English, take them down in his own shorthand in Swedish, and transcribe them in Swedish. Ellen was born 18 December 1887, the first of August and Sanda’s children to be born in the US.  Aleck and Ellen had two children, Eleanor (25 November 1909-15 February 1984) and Ronald, born 4 October 1914.
    Aleck left Butler Brothers and set up in business on his own in Portland, Oregon, from June 1910 to October 1914.  This venture yielded no profit, and he went back to other sales jobs.  Sometime during World War I, he worked at the Rock Island Arsenal (Badge #7749).  By September 1919 he was selling dry goods again throughout northeastern Iowa and the family was living in a six-room house on a 40 by 130 foot lot at 2325 - 19th Street in Moline.  Built by the government to house arsenal workers, it was one of those offered on favorable terms to those living in them.  Aleck and Ellen decided to buy it for no money down and $39 a month -- a financial stretch, she said, but manageable.  Her letters to family in Chicago in 1919-1920 display a kind eye for her children and a delightful sense of humor.  She died 27 January 1920 of a persistent inner-ear infection.  Aleck, ten-year-old Eleanor, and five-year-old Ronald moved back to Chicago; several “aunties” -- Ellen’s sisters Alice, Ruth, and Emy Lou, and Aleck’s sister Beesh and sister-in-law Mary -- helped take care of the children.  Both Aleck and his son thus spent most of their childhoods in motherless households.
    The family lived at a variety of addresses on the south side:  66th and Blackstone, just south of 71st and east of Stony Island, 79th near the lake, and way south in Riverdale around 137th St.  At this last address, Ronald was in sixth grade when they took a wheelbarrow to the IC freight station at Riverdale and brought home their first radio.  It consisted of several packing crates, containing “an A battery to warm the filaments, some B batteries, the radio itself, and a horn-like speaker.”  When living farther north, Ronald enjoyed playing in the “wilderness” of Jackson Park.  At age 13 or 14 he visited then-new Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park and got drenched, then proceeded to dry off while walking several miles northwest to the aunties’ house off Montrose and Ashland (on Paulina?) on the north side.
    In these years Aleck moved back and forth from sales work to a variety of civil service jobs, including the Cook County Bureau of Public Welfare, the Census Bureau, Customs, and the Veterans’ Administration.  He worked for the Bureau of Prohibition as a clerk from 1920 to 1925, and as an inspector from 1925 to 1927.  According to his son, he wasn’t in the enforcement section, but everyone in the bureau was pressed into service on New Year’s Eve.  In the late 1920s he worked for a time selling securities for a holding company which went broke prior to the big crash.  Since the man at the top turned out to have been “milking” the company, some of the people who had bought from him never got all the money that was coming to them.  In 1933 he was an inspector of merchandise at the Chicago World’s Fair.  Ronald tells of the time Aleck visited a fellow civil-service office worker in the hospital.  “The poor guy had to confess that he had ‘rated’ Dad as one of the lesser characters on the staff, and treated him accordingly.  But it turned out that Dad was the only one from the office who had visited him in the hospital.”
    Aleck  visited the west coast in July 1937, and went back to Champaign for his fortieth college class reunion in 1942.  He paid attention to his alma mater’s football fortunes, at one point noting that he had bet “Kelly” 25 cents that Notre Dame would not beat Illinois by 12 points.  As for participant sports, late in October 1940, Aleck wrote, “Golf -- 80 (Degrees only).”
    Aleck’s “independent-mindedness” also showed up in his not being particularly religious.  He refused to call any human being “reverend.”  (One would like to know what he talked about when his son’s in-laws, a genial Methodist minister and his wife, visited in August 1951.  Maybe football, which was one interest they had in common.)  Ronald says that Aleck could never convince himself that the creator of such a humongous and complex universe could possibly be concerned in the least with “us sparrows.”  But when Eleanor had surgery, he prayed for her:  “I don’t know to whom or to what, but I did pray for her.”  (6 August 1950:  “’Tis idle -- talk of Heaven or Hell; / But live the day / And all is well.”)
    Few of his letters and papers have survived.  His date books are sparsely annotated.  They do include a note of the death of Kate (Davidson?) 31 July 1939; an address for Ina and Annie Davidson, 8 Shandwick Place, Edinburgh in 1940; as well as notes of events, marriages, and births.  They also show him to have been a proficient writer of light occasional verse, occasionally entering jingle or word contests.  He always thought Ronald should be able to do the same, which he wasn’t.  In general, though, Aleck was so adamant about not dictating life choices to his children that he wouldn’t give Ronald any advice at all!
    When the three brothers got together (Jim and Aleck in Chicago, Tom on more or less annual visits there after he moved west), “The air was thick with puns” -- and evidently thick with pipe smoke as well.  They played golf and chess.  Tom and Jim traveled back to Scotland for several weeks in the summer of 1955, and were sorry that Aleck’s severe rheumatoid arthritis (inherited by both his children) prevented his going too.  A small piece of paper folded into the back of his 1954 datebook:
    The postman passed us on his way
    No word from brother Tom today
    But I shall not complain.
    Good books have I upon the shelf
    Wherewith to edify myself
    And Tom will write again.
    Aleck married Evalyn Warner 8 September 1936.  They lived at 7016 S. Stewart in Chicago. After she died 24 May 1955, Aleck moved to the Hooper Rest Home in Canton, near his son’s family. Tom and Jim evidently visited him there each summer.  On the last occasion, in 1957, Aleck treated them to some Haig & Haig fine Scotch whiskey.  He died 20 October 1957, survived by two brothers and one sister; his daughter, a secretary in Chicago; his son, a high-school math teacher in Farmington; and five grandchildren (Harold, Laura, Sarah, Lois, and Rick).  Posthumously he has acquired six great-grandchildren (Rachel, Robin, Joshua, Sam, Peter, and Elizabeth Anne).


Aleck Henderson insurance applications, 14 June 1910 Bankers Life insurance policy and 1899/1900 Mass Mutual. Chicago Daily News, 9 November 1893, “Death in a Wreck.” Otto Hogfeldt, December 1936 “Preface and Reflections” to *Predikningar.* “Mr. Robert Henderson,” obituary in George Square Chronicle (24 November 1916?) Evalyn Warner Henderson death certificate. Tom Henderson and Ellen B. Henderson letters. Marriage certificate, Robert and Elizabeth Henderson. Aleck Henderson date books 1937-1951, 1953, and 1954. Newspaper obituary clippings in Swedish, translated September 2000 by Marc Miles.


Sale deed shows that 7016 Stewart was a 7-room frame house with a garage (variously described as one-car and two-car) on a 25'x125' lot, sold May 1957 for $8250. Funeral fee to Harold L. Thrall, $25. Estate assets $13,585.62.


University of Illinois info on Aleck -- major field? Where is Englewood Heights? Check other Chicago newspapers for a more rounded description of Eggleston wreck. Additional info (from cousin Robin?) on Tom and Jim’s descendants.

Ron Henderson note: "thought about being a teacher, regretted not doing so."

  1. Extract Entry of Birth, under the 37th Sect. of 17 and 18 Vict. Cap. 80, Record Type: Birth Registration Extract, Subject: Alexander Henderson, Number: 390. (15 April 1874).
  2. Passengers' List, Anchor Line of Transatlantic Steam Packet Ships, Ship Name: Circassia, Series: FHL Microfilm number 295799. (25 April 1881).
  3. 1900 US Census Illinois Cook County, Record Type: US Census, Record Info: Series T623, Roll 264. (1900)
    Roll 285, page 89, Chicago, 31st Ward, Robert Henderson household.
  4. State of Illinois Medical Certificate of Death, Alexander Henderson, Record Type: Illinois Death Certificate, Name Of Person: Alexander Henderson, Number: 393. (4 Nov 1957).
  5. State of Illinois Medical Certificate of Death, Alexander Henderson, Record Type: Illinois Death Certificate, Name Of Person: Alexander Henderson, Number: 393. (4 Nov 1957).
  6. Eleanor and Ronald Henderson. Ron and Eleanor Henderson interview, Interviewer: Lois Henderson. (16 Apr 1982).
  7. Extract Entry of Birth, under the 37th Sect. of 17 and 18 Vict. Cap. 80, Record Type: Birth Registration Extract, Subject: Alexander Henderson, Number: 390. (15 April 1874).
  8. The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago 1895. (The Chicago Directory Co., Lakeside Building, Clark & Adams Streets, 1895)
  9. The Lakeside Annual Directory of the city of Chicago 1896. (The Chicago Directory Co., Lakeside Bldg., Clark & Adams Streets, 1896)
  10. The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago 1897. (The Chicago Directory Company, Lakeside Press Bldg., Plymouth Court, Cor. Polk Street, 1897)
  11. Chicago City Directories.
  12. Alexander Henderson. Aleck Henderson letters, Recipient: Emy Lou Boring,
    1 Sept 1910.
  13. Ronald Henderson Report of Birth, Record Type: Cook County Report of Birth, Name Of Person: Ronald Henderson, File Number: 8133.
  14. World War I Draft Registration Card. (
    Alexander Henderson 12 Sep 1918, Chicago.
  15. Eleanor Henderson. Eleanor Henderson letters, Recipient: various
    31 May 1919.
  16. Ellen Boring Henderson. Ellen Boring letters, Recipient: Boring family
    29 Sep 1919.
  17. State of Illinois Medical Certificate of Death, Alexander Henderson, Record Type: Illinois Death Certificate, Name Of Person: Alexander Henderson, Number: 393. (4 Nov 1957).
  18. 8:55 AM, District of Newington, City of Edinburgh
    Birth registered 15 April 1874.

    STB age 7 on 25 Apr 1881.

    STB age 26 born Mar 1874 in 1900 census.
  19. 10:55 am, from uremia (4 days), "chronic cardio vascular renal disease" -- Paul D. Reinertson, M.D., attending physician
  20. Net estate $12,636.39 shared equally between the 2 children, as per legal agreement between them
  21. Baptized by Archibald Miller [?]
  22. Circassia
  23. Henderson Alexander student h. 8622 S. Hermitage av. [1895, 1896] [1897 directory gives no occupation, "bds. 8622 S. Hermitage av."]
  24. N.B. Birth certificate is blank for father's birthplace, age, and occupation.
  25. bond salesman, National City Co., 137 La Salle Street, Chicago
    medium height medium build, grey eyes, brown hair
  26. uremia (4 days), "chronic cardio vascular renal disease"